Album: An Endless Premonition
Artist: Carl Weingarten

an-endless-premonitionI always find it interesting to write about a new release from an artist I’ve written about previously to get a look at their current stylistic direction and artistic arc. In the case of the latest album by ambient guitarist Carl Weingarten, that arc is more of a full circle, as he returns to a style he explored in earlier recordings. His last album, which I wrote about, Life Under Stars, was a bit of a departure into “cinematic jazz” with Americana influences. However, the one before that, Panomorphia, was more along the lines of what I referred to as “sonic tapestries,” which relied heavily on looping, layering, and spacey effects, some of which brought to mind the music of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. His new album, An Endless Premonition, is somewhat of a return to this style that Carl has been exploring for three decades. While Life Under Stars had more earthy influences, this new release is more like life in the stars, with its decidedly celestial ambiance. Carl refers to this music as “symphonic space guitar.”


Since my previous feature articles on Carl’s music contain considerable info about his musical background, rather than repeat it here, I’ll refer readers who may be interested to those links above. However, my recent interview with Carl reveals a good deal of info and insights on the inspiration and making of this album. I asked Carl for any back-story on this recording, to which he replied: “I had been thinking about a loop based project for several years, but the format is so common now and there’s so many talented artists in the field at this point. I’ve been doing looping based music since 1979, going back to the twin tape deck system before digital pedals came along. I didn’t want to repeat what I’ve done before, so if I was going to produce something, it had to sound different. After a few weeks messing around with different combinations of effects, I found an approach that felt like something new – one that’s less about looping sounds and overdubbing leads, but rather using the guitar as a trigger to produce weingarten-2016-photo-700sounds that are constantly shifting and evolving, whether I’m actively playing or not. An Endless Premonition has a very orchestral sound, and I have the effects big and up front in the mix, rather than the guitar.”


This last point is significant. Although it is technically a “guitar album”, it is not in the sense that most people would think of in regard to that term. The sound processing equipment that the guitar is channeled through is equally important as the instrument itself. A single plucked note can become a soundtrack as it expands through a maze of sound shaping effects. In places, if you didn’t know, you might assume you were listening to layers of keyboard synthesizers. Interestingly, after dialing in his sound, Carl recorded the tracks live in the studio, all of which are first takes with no overdubs, making this an in-the-moment creative experience. Carl has had a long association with fretless bass superstar Michael Manring, and the maestro lends his considerable talents on two of the five extended tracks, the longest of which is over 15 minutes in length. Incidentally, Michael’s tracks were also first takes, which he played all the way through, adding to the spontaneous, moment-of-creation quality of the recording. Michael Manring also plays with Carl and ambient horn player Jeff Oster in a group called Blue Eternity as well as on the new Jeff Oster Live! album.


Carl’s orientation to music is different than many artists I write about who started with lessons on their instrument at an early age. As he explains: “Before I began playing guitar as a teenager, the work I did was in the visual arts, like photography and filmmaking, so that’s really where I’m coming from in my music. I never had any formal music education. I went to film school, and if it taught me anything, it was how to gather a crew and take a complicated project from beginning to end – and most importantly, to learn every aspect of production. This prepared me to be a producer. By the time I graduated from college, the independent music scene was beginning and I could see that was where things were headed.


This cinematic perspective is evident in the sweeping soundscapes Carl creates. Right from the beginning of the opening track, “Spurlos,” a visually evocative ambiance is created that takes the listener deep into the theater of their imagination. Notes are launched from the guitar that travel through Carl’s electronic effects into uncharted realms of space, expanding and evolving as they go, merging into overlapping layers of ethereal echoes. While it is at least somewhat obvious that the sounds on the first track are being created on guitar, it is quite the opposite on the next piece, “Landreth Lights.” Long sustained tones drift in and out creating clouds of sound that just about anybody would assume were created on synthesizers.


Michael Manring with Carl

Michael Manring recording with Carl

Track 3, which is the title track, marks the first of two collaborations with Michael Manring on fretless bass. This piece combines elements of the first two with its combination of plucked notes and expansive sonic textures. With an occasional strummed chord, there were moments, especially towards the beginning that reminded me just a wee bit of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd, although more spacious and non-rhythmic. Michael’s bass playing is stellar, as always, utilizing a combination of fingered notes and the use of an E-bow, a handheld electronic device that creates infinite sustain on a string, similar to what can be achieved with a bow on a violin or cello. In fact, some of his tones are quite cello-like.


The next piece entitled “The Far Away,” is appropriately named as there is indeed a feeling of cosmic distance evoked in its spacious ambient atmospheres. This is the second collaboration with Mr. Manring, whose playing is equally astral. The album concludes with the dreamy “Blue Rendezvous,” which features just a bit of more conventional guitar phrasing, although the effects take it into another dimension altogether.


Sometimes I find it helpful to provide the names of similar sounding artists to give the readerdeep-space-1 points of reference to compare to. In this case though, there are few guitarists traversing these rarified regions of the sonicsphere. Perhaps the one I can think of that comes closest is award winning ambient guitarist and favorite on Hearts of Space and Echoes radio programs, Jeff Pearce. I would not hesitate to say that people who like the music of Jeff Pearce would be equally entranced by Carl’s extraterrestrial explorations. As mentioned, this album marks a return to the long-form electronic music of Carl’s early recordings. His albums Submergings and Delay Tactics would be a good place to start for those who may be interested. An Endless Premonition provides a dream-like journey to deep space and beyond. After listening to this album with headphones, I had to make sure my feet were on the ground before trying to walk. As I have said of Carl’s music, his style is adventurous, exploratory, and intriguing, and to be able to create a distinct sound in today’s crowded music market is quite an accomplishment in itself.



Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album:


CD Baby